South Dakota has 152 public K-12 schools, 49 non-public schools and 20 tribal schools. During the last couple years, the state has not been immune to the nation’s struggle to recover from one of the largest economic downturns in history. Budget shortfalls at every level of government have called into question how public education should be evaluated, funded and improved.
Leaders within the state have had their own disagreements about equal access to education and funding, which played itself out in a lawsuit against the state when a group of parents said education in South Dakota is inadequately funded. These debates over education funding often revolve around South Dakota's level of spending on K-12 education compared to other states. Census Bureau data on education spending has been compiled by Governing magazine here.
While Congress debates how to move forward with the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp has decided to hold its goals for proficiency in reading and math at 2009-10 levels and reduce its graduation rate goal to 80 percent from the current target of 85 percent. At the current rate, the No Child Left Behind law expects every child to be proficient or advanced in math and reading by 2014. For more information check out the South Dakota Department of Education's website here.
The Department of Education has received widespread support for the decision, both from superintendents, as well as teachers and parents, who say they would like to see a number of changes in the state’s public education system. Associated School Boards of South Dakota, a non-profit association, and Zogby International, conducted a survey in 2010 that asked respondents a number of questions related to their view of education in the state. When grading schools based on the quality of education students receive, most of the survey participants gave schools in their community an A or B, but said a lack of funding and difficulty hiring teachers has hampered schools’ efforts. Check out the full Zogby report, “Public Views: K-12 Education in South Dakota." Also, in September 2011, the Dakota Poll surveyed South Dakotans on the subject of education. The results reveal widespread support for the state's schools.
High school graduation and attendance rates demonstrate no clear trend in the Black Hills. Data from 2011 show increases in some school districts and increases in other compared to 2010. Most counties have a graduation rate in the mid eighties, with Hill City leading the region with a 2011 graduation rate of 100 percent. Shannon county is far below all of the other school districts with a graduation percentage of 7.41 percent, which is an increase from the prior year. For for information and data on the graduation and attendance rates in the Black Hills see this interactive data map.
For more information about each individual school district click here to view a list of all the Black Hills Area School Districts including links to each of their websites.